Let’s Build a Rotation

In Ottoneu, like any fantasy format, small sample sizes to begin the season drastically impact the standings. The team with the worst pitching in your league has probably allowed more homers than expected. While the team in last place has likely has pitched the fewest innings. It’s easy to blow off these types of starts due the unsustainable performances that aren’t likely to continue (or to front-loading innings). I thought it would be fun to take a different approach today. So let’s play a game…

The rules: Pick 5 SP, total salaries for this rotation of $30 or less based on Ottoneu average values (round up $1 dollar). No picks with an average salary over $12. Arbitrary limitations, I know.

The goal: Build a 5 man rotation assuming you can bank all points that have occurred thus far with the goal of accumulating the most Fangraphs points by seasons end. Let’s make some picks.

Name Avg. $ % Owned P/IP FPTS IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA FIP
Drew Smyly so far $9.00 99% 6.21 178 28.2 10.36 1.57 0.94 2.51 2.80
Drew Smyly ROS $9.00 99% 4.93 601 122 9.52 2.56 1.11 3.28 3.50
Season Total 5.19 779 150 9.68 2.37 1.08 3.14 3.37

The most expensive pitcher in our rotation at $9, Smyly is our Ace. Yesterday, August outlined that his ROS FIP projection has improved by .2 runs so far (near tops in the league). Plus, he plays in the Trop. Considering home runs are death in Ottoneu, I am planning to avoid players who play in terrible parks (though the next two names on this may contradict that). Anyways, I’ve banked 178 points with Smyly (6.21 P/IP). Projections peg him to throw just over 150IP this year. I’m banking on the over. $21 left…

Name Avg. $ % Owned P/IP FPTS IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA FIP
Vince Velasquez so far $6.00 99% 6.51 165 25.1 11.72 2.13 0.71 1.78 2.36
Vince Velasquez ROS $6.00 99% 5.12 620 121 10.67 3.46 0.97 3.54 3.49
Season Total 5.36 785 146 10.87 3.21 0.92 3.21 3.28

I love Velasquez. I’ve mentioned that before. He’s owned in 99% of leagues at this point, and I imagine acquiring him would cost a pretty penny, but that doesn’t matter for this exercise. I’m pretty excited about banking his 165 points thus far. For reference, he has put up 6.51 P/IP, fourth on the list of starting pitchers with 20+ IP behind Noah Syndergaard (7.42), Stephen Strasburg (6.59), and Jaime Garcia (6.52). His fastball, curve, and change all look to be above average by swinging strikes. While it appears he has moved away from throwing his slider in 2016, it looks like an elite pitch as well. He’ll cost me $6, but of all pitchers on this list he has the highest remaining ROS projected P/IP at 5.12. $15 remaining…

Name Avg. $ % Owned P/IP FPTS IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA FIP
Aaron Nola so far $5.00 99% 6.17 204 33 10.09 1.64 .82 3.55 2.59
Aaron Nola ROS $5.00 99% 4.59 702 153 8.48 2.07 1.12 3.79 3.62
Season Total 4.87 906 186 8.77 1.99 1.06 3.75 3.44

Like Velasquez, Nola definitely helps to give the Phillies reason for optimism. His 58 point gem yesterday (8.2 P/IP) definitely help factor into this decision as it allows me to bank 204 points (5th most of all SP). His curveball looks like one of the best in the game (an insane 20% swinging strikes). Alex Chamberlain compared him to Kyle Hendricks and I actually like that comparison quite a bit. Eno likes him as well – so I am by no means early to the party, but I think there is enough room on the bandwagon for one more. My only concern with him (like Velasquez) is the size Citizens Bank Park – like I said, homers really hurt you in Ottoneu, but for $5 I’ll take the risk. That leaves us with $10 for two SP.

Name Avg. $ % Owned P/IP FPTS IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA FIP
Rich Hill so far $4.00 80% 5.88 153 26 12.81 3.12 0.35 2.42 2.26
Rich Hill ROS $4.00 80% 4.80 672 140 9.67 4.19 0.84 3.77 3.75
Season Total 4.97 825 166 10.26 3.99 0.74 3.52 3.47

No pitcher has improved his rest of season projection in 2016 more than Hill. The A’s don’t appear to have a ton of options, so this is both a gamble on upside and a guess that he could top his projection of 140IP remaining. Plus, playing at Oakland will limit homers, and considering I already have 2 Phillies, I wanted to be conscious of that. If his rest of season resembles anything like his past 9 starts, this will likely be the best pick on this list. For $4 it’s an easy choice. I’ll take the over on 4.8 P/IP ROS. That leaves us with 1 spot left and $6 to spend. Time to make a difficult decision for my last starter…

Name Avg. $ % Owned P/IP FPTS IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA FIP
Jhoulys Chacin so far $2.00 38% 6.34 140 22 9.41 1.64 3.27 1.56
Jhoulys Chacin ROS $2.00 38% 4.36 318 73 7.67 3.16 0.86 3.88 3.85
Season Total 4.82 458 95 8.07 2.81 0.66 3.74 3.32

Okay, so I fully acknowledge I am leaving money on the table and that there may be some better options, but I really wanted to bring up Chacin. He’s only owned in 33% of Ottoneu Fangraphs point leagues, and can probably be had for a couple dollars in nearly every league. He’s no longer in Coors, and while he hasn’t been fantasy relevant for a while, he has done several things this season which make him interesting. He is throwing first pitch strikes 63% of the time, tied for the highest rate of his career. While throwing more pitches in the strike zone than prior seasons, he is simultaneously allowing less contact on these pitches than he has previously. He is also sporting a career high swinging strike rate (12%), career low walk rate (4.4%), and a 49% gound ball rate. However, it’s not all positives. Looking at his pitch f/x data, I wonder if his pitch mix is varied enough. He is primarily using his fastball/sinker/cutter/slider, while rarely throwing his changeup or curveball. The slider is elite by swinging strikes (22% for his career), and his fastball and sinker are good by groundballs historically, but it appears each of these pitches is on a similar spectrum . I’d like to see him start mixing in his curveball again to have a pitch that breaks in a different direction. It looks like a good pitch by swinging strikes (10%), but he rarely throws in. Anyways, he definitely fits on our squad – $3 off our total for 6.34 P/IP. 139 points banked, and I’ll easily take the over on his 23 ROS IP. He rounds out our squad with $4 left to spare.

My $30 Ottoneu FGpt Rotation
Name Avg. $ % Owned P/IP FPTS IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA FIP
Total so far $26.00 6.22 840 135.0 10.87 2.00 0.60 2.73 2.36
Total ROS $26.00 4.78 2,913 609 9.30 3.06 0.99 3.64 3.63
Season Total 5.04 3,752 744 9.58 2.87 0.92 3.48 3.40

Here’s the rotation as a whole. Honestly, if you rostered these 5 for anything close to their average value, you are probably in a very nice position (imagine pairing them with Syndergaard or Kershaw). Even the 4.78 ROS projection for this group is very nice – and would set you up to compete in nearly any league considering many of these names are likely depth starters and not your #1 or #2 options. I really wanted to fit Chacin into this piece, since I feel like he is still of the radar in a number of leagues. Other names I considered include Jaime Garcia, Jose Quintana, Jason Hammel, Taijuan Walker, and Drew Pomeranz. I’d be happy to own any of those guys as well. Who would you pick? Maybe we’ll keep track of this.

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Joe works at a consulting firm in Pittsburgh. When he isn't working or studying for actuarial exams, he focuses on baseball. He also writes @thepointofpgh. Follow him on twitter @Ottoneutrades

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$11 Maeda
$6 Velasquez
$6 Hendricks
$4 Eickhoff
$3 Latos